Throw an awesome all-grrl party -- I'm speaking to the ladies (and the lady-hearted) here. Gentlemen, I will give you some alternatives toward the bottom (which involve an awesome all dude party.) Step 1: Invite all the women you know (single or not, straight or not) to a cocktail party at your house/apartment/underpass on Feb 13 -- a Sunday. Sunday night parties are the best because they are low stress, you aren't competing with "date night" god help me, and people long to be distracted from the threat of work the next day. They will be grateful. It should begin at 6:30 and plan to go until 9:30 or 10.
Step 2: Instruct them -- this is imperative, pay attention -- to bring a bouquet of flowers. The flowers should be a single variety -- that is, all roses or tulips or daisies. And they should be all white or all pink. Your invitation will explain that the flowers will all be gathered together and everyone will be invited to make their own mixed bouquet as they head out the door -- so everyone at the party wakes up on Monday morning, the dreaded Valentine's Day, to a bouquet of flowers from people who love them. Good, huh? Before they arrive put out every pitcher and bowl filled with water and those little flower packets you have on a table. When the guests come in they should just open the bouquets (untie, no plastic wrappings etc) and plop the flowers in the water. Have on hand cellophane if you can find it (your florist might be willing to part with it), colored tissue paper, twine and/or ribbon, and a few pairs of scissors or snippers.
Step 3: Serve a single cocktail with pitchers made in advance. Should be pink. Or serve rose champagne. I love Gruet blanc de noir, which is out of New Mexico and retails for about $14 a bottle.
Step 4: Make the menu all finger foods - sushi would be good, and easy. You can get decent sushi most anyplace these days so you don't have a lot of prep work. Get some great chips (pita, tortilla, good crackers) and make hot dips (artichoke and crab) or individual mac&cheese (with truffles! or lobster! depends on the number of guests). Put out everything all at once and let the girls graze.
Step 5: For dessert, buy a bunch of Whitman samplers or those awful heart-shaped candy boxes they sell at the drug store (which I secretly adore) and leave them open around the room, with an "eat me" sign and tiny little bowls perched next to each one, so your guests can take one bite and put the rest aside if they've inadvertently gotten one of those hideous orange cremes.
Step 6: Before the party, set your computer up with Grooveshark (a free Internet jukebox with literally every song known to man on it) and create a party play list that is heavy on Abba, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, and Diana Ross. Maybe some Gloria Gaynor.
Step 7: With drinks flowing freely (you should be walking around filling their glasses as they talk... quiet as a mouse) and food available on every surface not covered with flowers, watch the magic happen. Women, separated from men, are wondrously flirtatious creatures and friendships will be founded that you would never imagine.
Step 8: When your first guest makes a move to put on her coat, grab her by the hand and walk her to the flowers and help make that first bouquet. Everyone else will get the picture. I did this at a party and it was such a delight seeing how carefully my friends chose and composed their bouquets. Artists, every one of them.
Step 9: Wake up on Valentines Day to GUSHING emailed love notes from all the women present who will have awoken themselves to flowers at their bedside, gifted to them by every other woman at the party. You can't be down on Valentines Day after that.
Valentine's Day Party: The He-Man Version
Admit it. Valentine's Day sucks for you too.
Step 1: Don't invite women. Put sports on the TV, on mute, and blast Lynrd Skynrd or whatever it is men like.
Step 2. Tell your guests to bring a six-pack of the most expensive/exotic/delicious beer they know. They will all be assembling customized 6 packs to take home at the end of the night with what is left over. You should lay in a case or two of good beer just to round things out.
Step 3: Fire up the grill. If funds allow, buy a bunch of steaks and bust out the A-1. Men like to stand around a fire and they like to eat steak. You can call it a "Beef Steak" on the invitation. My friend Tom Cull once drove from DC to, like, Tennessee for a Beef Steak -- all guys -- and I've always been intrigued with the notion.
If steak is out of the budget (before you discard the notion, consider flat iron, usually about $8 a lb and very tender) load the grill with bratwurst or other good sausage (NOT HILLSHIRE FARMS. I just accidentally had one and its more like I don't know what than sausage. Potted meat? Overly artificial tasting) and serve it with mustard and good rolls (warmed on the grill) . If you don't have a grill or outdoor space, a good beef chili will do it. Chips and salsa and guacamole will round out the menu. Men like brownies so make those for dessert (Make them from scratch. It's no more difficult than a mix, I promise) or buy a couple of iced chocolate cakes.
Step 4: Slice the steak (or not). Eat with your hands, drink beer or bourbon. Eat cake. And on the way out the door, have everyone choose 6 beers from the the assemblage on the table. And they can sit in their apartments and drink on Feb. 14, because no one wants to be out that night. It's awful, all those couples trying so hard to live up to the day.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU to get clever and decide to merge your all-grrls party with an all-boys party across the hall in the hopes of creating a few hook ups. Absolutely against the spirit.
Throw parties, report back.